Alex Ferguson's glorious obsession with the European Cup is motivated by an "envious" feeling towards historic heavyweights like Real Madrid and Liverpool, clubs who have enjoyed far greater prominence than Manchester United in this illustrious competition. Ferguson wants his club to join the legends.
Ferguson is about to knock Liverpool off one perch, breaking their record for 18 English titles. How he would love one day to match the stitching into Liverpool's shirts of five stars, each denoting a European Cup triumph.
United, echoing the feats of Barcelona and Inter Milan, currently boast three European Cups, behind the four of Bayern Munich and Ajax, the famous five of Liverpool, AC Milan's magnificent seven and Madrid's nine.
"My expectation has always been high in regards to the European scene,'' he reflected on the eve of another semi-final.
"But we do get envious of the records of other clubs in Europe. We look at other teams' records and we are trying to get parity with that.
"We look at clubs like Real Madrid, AC Milan, Ajax, Bayern Munich and Liverpool, and we really need to progress."
Ferguson attended the second leg of Schalke's vanquishing of Inter, a 2-1 success adding to that astonishing 5-2 scoreline in San Siro.
"Even in the good spells that Inter had, Schalke never looked like losing it,'' said Ferguson. "They have a self-determination, the German people, and it's reflected in how they approach all sports.
"There's a similarity with English people, though maybe more Scottish. The Germans have a determination like the Scots, although I'm very mellow now."
A slight smile drifted across Ferguson's face, but it is hard to imagine him mellowing fully until some of the history books have been rewritten.
This United team have endured criticism this season, yet shown a remarkable resilience.
"There is a great talent,'' enthused Ferguson.
"It's a wee bit misguided with some of the criticism.
"The most important thing has been the freshness that's come into our team with players (returning) like Antonio Valencia and Rio Ferdinand, Wayne Rooney and Ji-sung Park.
"Rio's quality showed itself in the first game against Chelsea. He was absolutely immense.'' (© Daily Telegraph, London)